DIY: Color Coded Towels

February 18, 2015

DIY: Color Coded Towels. Say goodbye to towel confusion in shared bathrooms!

By Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.

When more than one person shares a bathroom, towels become an issue. No doubt you have noticed this as well. You step out of the shower, grab a towel, and realize it’s soggy. Yuck. I do not like sharing my towel, but I get that it’s hard to keep things straight, especially if the towels are all the same color. Happily, there’s a simple solution: add a loop of ribbon — a different color for each person!

Assign a color to each family member (and another color for guests!) and proceed with confidence that next time you grab a towel, you won’t be accidentally sharing it with someone else. Plus, there’s a bonus feature. Instead of towel racks, use wall hooks in your bathroom and use the loops to hang the towels on the hooks. No more towels slipping to the floor! And hooks are space saving too.

DIY: Color Coded Towels. Say goodbye to towel confusion in shared bathrooms!

I generally gravitate toward white towels in the bathroom, but for this tutorial I chose a neutral grey that I thought would both look good in photos and contrast nicely with colorful ribbon loops. Different colors of grosgrain ribbon or cotton twill tape work wonderfully for this project, or you could go with colorful or patterned towels, and then use a neutral colored loop. The choice is up to you!

DIY: Color Coded Towels. Assign a color to each family member and say goodbye to towel confusion in shared bathrooms!

Let’s get started. The towel confusion is over!

Click here for the full tutorial.


Living With Kids: Sara Davis

February 17, 2015

By Gabrielle. Photos by Melody Carpenter.

Meet Sara. If you’ve got a chalkboard in your house and you’ve scoured Pinterest for cute ideas on how to get it looking like…well…the cute ones on Pinterest, chances are you’ve already met her! I asked her a few questions and she answered them all perfectly, but I sensed that there was more content in her than charming chalkboards and fabulous DIYs. The only problem was that Sara didn’t really know it! It took some convincing and more begging for a few more words and honesty, which resulted in a lot of hard work on Sara’s part to open up. I am thrilled to say that one of my last emails to her read, “THERE YOU ARE!”

And so, here she is: the brave Sara who took a leap outside her comfort zone to share herself with us. I really hope you enjoy her.

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: Hi there! I’m Sara, and I live in “the middle” with my amazing husband Steve and our three children: Bryant is nine, Benson is seven, and Lena is three. I’m originally from Illinois, but I came to Indiana for college where I studied marketing and art & design. It was in college that I met and fell in love with Steve, and I have been here ever since!

Steve and I have completely different interests, but we work well together. Well, most of the time! He is an attorney and thinks carefully and thoughtfully through everything that comes out of his mouth. I, on the other hand, just tend to blurt things out. Steve is extremely social, loves spreadsheets and sports, and hates being hot. I prefer small groups of people, I love creating anything and shopping, and could sit in the sun all day.

Meet the rest of the family…and more chalkboards! Just click.


A Few Things

February 13, 2015

Oh Happy Day & Design Mom as kids

By Gabrielle. Photo is me holding my sister Jordan of Oh Happy Day — such a festive shot!

Hello, Friends! How are you? Oh my goodness I am surely excited to greet the weekend. I pretty much love that Valentine’s Day is on Saturday — it means we can sleep in and enjoy a lazy brunch. And then no school on Monday! I swear, three day weekends feel like gold at the end of a rainbow.

What are your plans this weekend? I know in some parts of the country they call the next 7 days “ski week”. Any of you headed to the slopes? Or maybe a romantic date for Saturday night? We haven’t made plans for Valentine’s night at all. Our older three are all babysitting for other families, so I’m guessing we’ll stay in. Takeout + a movie sounds about right. Any favorite romantic comedies you’d recommend? I’d love to watch something we haven’t seen before! But maybe a re-watch of You’ve Got Mail or While You Were Sleeping is in order. (I would add Notting Hill as an option, but we just watched it on Sunday. Also, Sunday was the first time I realized Lord Grantham is in Notting Hill! He’s so young!!!)

I’ve got appointments for much of today and need to head out, but before I do, there are few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Oh man. I can’t stop thinking about this article on public shaming. I feel like this could happen to anyone. It’s so easy to assume the worst of people.

- And the opposite, a feel good story!

- My sister-in-law, Margaret Blair Young, launched a kickstarter for a really cool movie she’s working on based in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Take a look!

- Are you a shoes off house? (Our house is so indoor/outdoor, I find it almost impossible.)

- If Stanley Tucci were your boyfriend.

- Every major Snape scene in chronological order.

- “Christianity did not “cause” slavery, anymore than Christianity “caused” the civil-rights movement.”

- She de-vamps dolls and gives them a new life. Thanks, Kirsty.

- A cute little video + Valentine printable from my friends at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

- They’ve been dating for 8 years but have never said, “I love you”. Thanks, Mary Karen.

- I’ve never been into tumblr much, but my teens are big fans — Maude keeps two tumblrs, one for funny stuff, and one for photos she loves. Do you have an opinion on tumblr?

- Need Valentine breakfast ideas? I pinned some of my favoritess. (Are you following me on Pinterest? It’s lots of fun.)

I hope you have a truly fantastic (long) weekend. Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy President’s Day! I hope you get a welcome break from your routine. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.



Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1544

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Well here is a post I don’t think any of you are expecting. Hah!

Last fall, I never got the chance to shoot our annual What To Wear To School Posts. There was Sweden, and a move to France and England for two of the kids, and it simply didn’t happen. The kids were bummed, but understanding. Then, throughout September and October I kept getting requests from readers for those annual posts, and I decided that maybe I didn’t have to abandon the posts after all. I mentally filed away the idea that we might shoot them in January, when everybody was home again.

Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1511 Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1522

So we did. There was a Saturday in January between my trips to DC and Alt Summit where we happened to have a laid-back schedule, and we made it happen!

Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1529 Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1513

This week, I finally started processing the photos and I have to say, I’m so glad we did the shoots! Partly, it’s the satisfaction of keeping the tradition, but it was also a reminder of how often we end up using the photos throughout the year — for ID photos, for social media profiles, for school projects. We used one for June’s preschool valentines this week!

All that, plus the kids LOVE having an overall snapshot of how they looked on any given year — their clothes, how they stood, the way they wore their hair. They like to see which pieces get handed down and then make an appearance in a future shoot. We end up referencing our What to Wear To School posts frequently.

Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1508 Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1504

I realize it’s February and “back to school” is far from anyone’s mind, but I hope you’ll indulge me as I share the images. I’m going to publish the photos in 3 groups — today is Oscar & Betty. Then, next week, I’ll share a second post with Olive & June, and a third post with Maude & Ralph. I hope you enjoy them!

Click for more outfit pics plus sources!


Dragon Kites

February 11, 2015

Dragon Kites4

By Gabrielle. Photos by Charlotte Smith Beck, from my Mother’s 70th Birthday Party in Mendon, Utah.

Have you ever been given an especially thoughtful gift? It’s the sort of pleasure that keeps on giving. My sister Rachel gave me one of these kites (the kites in the photos on this post) last August, and I just grin every time I see it. She actually gave one to each of my siblings as well. And as you might guess, there’s a story behind them.

Dragon Kites2

Growing up, my parents had a kite like these pictured, with a dragon face, and colored panels making a rainbow of the tail. We called it the Dragon Kite, and it was well-loved. My father grew up in the Bay Area and my parents had picked up the dragon kite at a San Francisco kite shop (there’s so much good kite-flying weather here, that there are whole shops dedicated just to kites).

The thing about this kite is that as a kid, it was even fun on a non-windy day. Just running with it made the loooong tail fly behind. One kid would run with the kite and the other kids would chase it and try to catch the tail. When I was older, it was great to entertain younger kids on babysitting jobs. And it was good for actual kite-flying too. We’d take it to Lake Powell every summer and fly it off the top of the house boat.

Dragon Kites3

And then one summer, it caught on something, or got caught by a gust of wind, or I don’t even quite remember. But the kite was lost somewhere over the lake. This was a sad day. We loved that kite.

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Then, on the day Ben Blair and I married, we received our own dragon kite! A gift from my Aunt Robin & Uncle Mark. They knew about my parent’s dragon kite, and they lived in Northern California and could get to the kite shop. (Remember, this was pre-internet when it was hard to find things.) What a great wedding gift. My eyes absolutely lit up when we opened it.

Ben and I loved that kite! Though we called it the dragon kite, ours didn’t have a dragon face. It had an arched rainbow and clouds, with the same rainbow tale as the dragon kite I grew up with. And my kids loved the kite too. During our New York years, we kept in the car so it was at the ready anytime we stopped at a park.

But one fall day we were flying it over the Hudson River at a park called Rockwood Hall, and all of sudden, it was gone in a gust of wind. Another sad day.

Dragon Kites1 Dragon Kites7

When we moved to Oakland, we thought: Let’s buy a dragon kite! But we looked and looked and did some research and they’re no longer in production. Turns out, my sister Rachel was doing the same kind of hunting. She wanted a dragon kite for her family as well. And she found out the same thing we did. They’re no longer available. Sad face.

So you know what she did? She made her own! A dragon kite for her own family, and a dragon kits for each of her brothers and sisters. Every one with a different design. Then, when we were all gathered last August to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday, she surprised us with them.

Isn’t that the coolest?! Such an amazing gift. I treasure our new kite. (Thank you again, Rachel!)

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The other day, I finally downloaded images from the party, and the kite pictures made me so happy! I couldn’t wait to share with you. For those of you who are in the middle of winter snow drifts, I hope these sunny photos warm you.

Now back to the question of thoughtful gifts. Have you ever been given something super thoughtful like that? Or maybe you gave something that was particularly awesome? Have you ever lost an object you loved — even one that wasn’t considered expensive or lavish? I’d love to hear!



February 10, 2015

Dress by MM.LaFleur

By Gabrielle. Photos by Ben Blair.  //  This post is brought to you by MM.LaFleur.

We’ve talked before how challenging making time for clothes shopping can be. Often, many of us keep a schedule that’s so full of tasks and errands that we don’t have time to shop for ourselves. Then a party or meeting or job interview or event or even conference comes up in our life and we have absolutely nothing appropriate to wear. So we panic and buy the first thing that sort-of fits at the closest clothes store, and it’s not quite right, and we’ll probably never wear it again, but oh well because we’re out of time. Anyone else relate? : )

MM.LaFleur Clothes Shopping Service. Luxury delivered to your door.

So when I hear of services that help with this sort of thing, I’m all ears. Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to MM.LaFleur. They aim to “take the work out of dressing for work”. If you’re someone who gets up every morning and ponders how to look professional and polished, pay attention. This company was made for you!

Sweater by MM.LaFleur

Their wares are all about really well made pieces that go easily from office to dinner. And they focus on easy care too — creating items that are machine washable, travel-friendly, and totally comfortable. Pieces that will look good for a long time.

To start, you fill out a style profile, then MM.LaFleur will send out a Bento Box — at no cost to you! — filled with 5-8 luxurious wardrobe staples based on your profile. You try things on, keep only what you love, and send the rest back. Oh. And a return shipping label comes with your package, so it’s simple as can be to make returns immediately. Nothing fits? No stress and no shipping or processing costs to you. MM.LaFleur only charges for the pieces you decide to keep.

Luck Favors the Brave notebook by MM.LaFleur

These are higher end pieces, meant to feel at home in even the most chic of New York offices. You can read the story behind the company here. Their goal: To make the purposeful woman look and feel beautiful, without having to work too hard at it.

They currently carry size 0-16, and they offer dressesskirtstops and sweaterscoats, plus accessories like beltsscarves and jewelry. Oh. And MM.LaFleur also offers a few luxurious objects — I want to give this Luck Favors the Brave notebook to every woman I meet! Not interested in a Bento Box? You can also shop the store directly.

Dress by MM.LaFleur

The quality of this service really stood out to me — from the packaging materials to the website to the clothes themselves — every detail feels special. And the ease of ordering and returning can’t be emphasized enough. I know shopping for clothes online can be tricky, but MM.LaFleur has made it as easy as possible. As I mentioned, the return label comes with the box of clothes, you don’t even need to print it out. You simply try on the clothes, box up anything that doesn’t fit, and send it back.

MM.LaFleur sent a box of clothes that I could try on and photograph for this post, plus a return shipping label so I could send everything back after the shoot and experience for myself how easy their return process is. I’m in the market for a new black dress, so they sent 3 different options to try on — plus a gorgeous sweater that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but that I fell in love with. Here’s a little photo tour of what they sent.

Click through for my thoughts on each piece, plus more pics!


Photo Oct 11, 3 34 59 PM

By Gabrielle.

If you needed a dose of unbridled happiness today, here it is. Between her rainbow decor and kids really do live here style and her vigor for life, Christy’s joy is easy to spot from a mile away. There’s so much in her interview, too, that will inspire all of us to stop overthinking it all and not be so hard on ourselves and get off the couch. She is so persuasive about loving life right this very minute and doing things that you can’t imagine you could ever accomplish that I found myself considering joining a triathlon club.


Friends, please welcome Christy. You’re going to adore her.

Q: Tell us all about the family who lives here!

A: Hi! I’m Christy Casimiro. I’m a wife, mother, and triathlete. I also have recently launched my own side business selling Younique cosmetics and have been hired by some friends to assist them in their interior design dilemmas. After six and a half years of not making any money, it’s an absolute thrill to contribute to the household a tiny bit doing two things I love!

My husband, Matt, is a fabulous Welshman and my best friend. He’s a breast cancer researcher at a university in Philadelphia, and a completely devoted and active father. We met on an online dating service 12 years ago. He contacted me on a Friday, our first date was a Monday, and within a week we’d taken down our profiles and were a couple. One year later we got married in a castle near his hometown in Wales, and the rest, as they say, is history!

We have three wonderfully wild little kids: Fiona is almost seven and the best big sister you could dream of, Callum is almost five and has a wonderful imagination whilst being a silent mischief maker, and then there’s Beckett, a real love bug whirling dervish.

A color explosion, just ahead!


Call It A Day: Sara Jensen

February 9, 2015

By Gabrielle. Photos by Sara Jensen.

I was speaking with a friend who had recently spoken with her friend whose everyday activities seem so – for lack of a better word – difficult! It isn’t that she’s building rocket ships or cooking dinner for a queen or even saving the world; it’s more that her daily to do list takes her places that are literally and figuratively completely foreign to most of us. And yet, she manages to accomplish everything she needs to accomplish. (More on her later!)

It got me thinking that we are all on this same path of doing what needs to be done, and that our daily to do lists are probably equal parts similar and so very different. My intrigue led to this new column, Call It A Day, where we follow friends through an average 24 hours and hopefully learn a little something along the way. You know, the whole walk-a-mile-in-their-shoes thing! I’m hoping it will become a real day-changer, philosophy shifter, and all around happy-maker.

I’m starting the series with the super talented Sara Jensen. Sara and her husband Thor live on a little island in the Pacific Northwest, and are parents to Henry and Rose, who are both seven and just two months apart. And I have to mention that as huge as her talent is, it’s got nothing on her heart. I like her so much, and her last line made me crumple. I hope her day makes yours even better.

Q: Good morning! How does your family wake up?

A: Typically Thor and I wake up about an hour before the kids. Food is an important part of our day, not only because we love to eat well, but because our son’s life depends on it. He has Type 1 Diabetes, and every single carb counts in our house. We have to measure everything we make to make sure that we are giving our son the proper amount of insulin to handle his food. Too little insulin creates high blood sugar that in the short term can make him really grumpy and sad, and too much insulin can cause his sugar to drop rapidly and cause him to pass out, fall into a coma or, best case scenario, make him act like a crazy drunk fratboy. Your brain operates at about 50% capacity when you are low. Long term high blood sugar can also lead to death, coma, DKA, loss of limbs, organ failure, and blindness. 

Q: From your Instagram peeks into your meals, you are a fantastic cook! Can you share a typical breakfast? 

A: We rotate meals a lot. We find that if you serve kids the same thing all of the time they don’t like change. Our kids LOVE change. A lot of people comment that it is too late to change the way that their kids eat. We met our daughter Rose when she was just three. Her diet largely consisted of fast food or no food, and she thought that weird Kool-Aid juice that comes in barrels was actual juice. The first full day we had her at our house we made her a kale salad and she asked what it was, observed Henry eating it, and just went with it. 

We feel so passionate about good food. We feel lucky to be educated enough about it and always want to learn more. We try and teach others, too. Our kids have thick skin and sometimes other kids with four Twinkies and a piece of meat with two dry slices of white bread make fun of their salad, but they shrug and keep eating. Henry even told another kid that was making fun of him that he would “probably not live his full life span if he didn’t eat vegetables.”

More from Sara, just ahead!


A Few Things

February 6, 2015


By Gabrielle. Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.

Hello, Friends. How are you doing? Was it a good week? I was flying high this week from the response to my Book Pre-Order announcement. The next day I found out the book was listed in the #1 spot on the best seller list in Amazon’s Home Decor category. Woo hoo! I know it may only last a day, but I’ll take it. : ) Also, I know that it’s the direct result of your support and enthusiasm and I can’t thank you enough. Seriously. Thank you!

Now, let’s discuss the weekend. Any fun plans? We’ve got a pancake breakfast for the Scouts tomorrow morning, but other than that, I think we’ll just enjoy the rainy weather that has come our way. Rain sometimes feels like such a novelty here. But I’m happy for any excuse to wear my awesome rain boots. I get compliments on them all day long anytime I wear them!


I’m off to tackle my inbox, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

- An excellent essay on copying and copyright.

- My son Ralph sent me this short movie called Paint. It’s really good. You should totally show it to your kids.

- Periodic Table of Texting. I feel like I only know a handful of these.

- “What had we been expecting — a monster? ”

- Family detention camps. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even know these existed.

- Feeling crummy? Try Skittles in water. Hah!

- I LOVE this behind the scenes look at the artwork in the Kid President book. So much attention to detail and so much creativity.

- She confronted her cruelest troll.

- Have you ever tried a no jeans challenge?

- A student’s life-changing trip to Tanzania (that’s my niece!).

I hope you have a really good weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — We had family photos snapped at our house last Sunday and the two photos above are a sneak peek of the results. I love both shots!


Bright Lab Lights!

February 5, 2015

Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices.

By Gabrielle. Images by Bright Lab.

These gorgeous light sets are so cool! Last year, a few of my friends and family members launched Bright Lab Lights, and I’ve been dying to tell you about them. But they sold out so fast on launch day, that I didn’t even have time to write up a post. Hah! The good news is, they are back in stock, and the website is better than ever, and now I can happily share them with you.

Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices. Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices.

So what are they? Customizable sets of cotton string lights! They come in 38 colors and you can mix and match them as you please. First, you choose a strand length — either 24 balls, or 48 balls. Then you choose your colors. It’s a really fun drag-and-drop tool that will have you trying out new color combinations for hours. : )

Or if creating your own set is not up your alley, they also come in pre-designed sets with 10 fabulous color schemes that are so pretty, you’ll want to design a whole room around them.

Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices. Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices. Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices.

I really want to add some to the girls’ room. I think they would be fun draped along the closets, adding another layer of texture to the space. I’ve also seen them used as a photo backdrop and they look amazing. They’re so happy, they make me want to throw a party!

Have you ever seen lights like this in person? (It’s hard not to fall in love with them.) And is there a spot in your house where these lights would look especially good? I’d love to hear.


Put Your Heart to Paper

February 5, 2015

Hallmark Love Card

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Are you feeling the February-holiday-lovely-dovey vibes? I totally am. I’m a fan of Valentine’s Day. I’ve heard it’s a made up holiday, but I don’t mind that a bit. And I also don’t focus on only romantic love on Valentine’s Day. I think it’s fun to have a calendar day dedicated to telling the people in your life why you love them, and February 14th seems like a great date to make that happen.

This year for Valentine’s Day, I’m working on a really fun collaboration with Hallmark. Each day for 10 days, I’m sharing images, stories and videos on Instagram to encourage people to Put Their Heart To Paper and express their love to someone (or someones!). I started on Monday and will continue till the 11th (and there will be an awesome giveaway as well!). You can follow along on my Instagram here, or check out the #putyourhearttopaper hashtag.

My favorite part of this campaign are the sweet videos Hallmark made for this celebration. They videotaped one person talking about why he or she loves another person, then have them both watch the footage together. It’s adorable as can be! Here’s one of my favorites:

You can see them all on Youtube here. And I hope you get a chance to put YOUR heart to paper this year!


Design Mom Book Pre-Orders!

February 4, 2015

DESIGN MOM - How To Live With Kids: A room-by-room guide.

By Gabrielle.

I could not be more excited to announce: My book is available for pre-order!

DESIGN MOM — How to Live With Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide will be available in stores on April 7th, but you can pre-order today from these lovely booksellers: AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Books A Million. Or, check out Your Closest Independent Bookstore (and yes, they take pre-orders, too). If you’d like a SIGNED COPY, be sure to order through my local bookstore, Diesel Bookstore, here in Oakland. I’m going to stop by and sign every single one.

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And oh my goodness.  I hope you LOVE the book!

There are 288 pages packed with every bit of info and advice I’ve got on creating a home that you will love, and that your children will thrive in. There are tips on organization and family-friendly furnishings. Parenting tidbits about things like getting your kids involved in the kitchen, and dealing with cartoon-characters-on-clothing. You’ll find practical advice to help you with questions like: what in the world am I supposed to do with all the art projects my preschooler brings home? Plus, I included a fantastic+easy DIY project in each chapter. The best part? The whole book is gorgeous! Every photo is beautiful. The layout is clean and crisp. It’s a joy to flip through.

If you’re a long time blog-reader, you’ll also be glad to know, this is NEW stuff. This book is not a printout of my blog. Not at all. It’s fresh content. Written just for the book. Written just for YOU.

What it does share in common with this blog, is that as I wrote the book, I tried to imagine I was having a conversation with a dear friend. The kind of really good conversations we have here. The tips and tricks are meant to be completely accessible, very useable, and totally within your grasp.

I 100% believe you can have a home that’s beautiful and comfortable and functional and kid-friendly. If you need help making it happen, my book will show you how it’s done.

As you know, the book publishing world is new-to-me and I’m definitely no expert, but I have been told repeatedly that pre-orders are key to the success of any book. So if you are planning to purchase the book — for yourself, or perhaps as a baby shower gift, or a Mother’s day gift — I hope you’ll consider placing your pre-order today. I would very much appreciate it!

Click here to read two things that surprised me about the book process.



February 3, 2015

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.

Photos and text by Gabrielle.  //  This post is sponsored by BucketFeet. Use the code below for 25% off!

Love shoes? Love supporting artists? Then here’s a shoe find that I know you’ll totally be into. The company is called BucketFeet and it’s an artist-designed footwear brand that is changing the way people interact with art. In fact, BucketFeet was created to connect people through art, by producing walking conversation-starters, and giving artists a platform to stand on.

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.

So many cool options! The shoes are designed through collaborations with artists from around the world. And not just fine artists — illustrators, tattooists, painters, graffiti artists, and tons of other creators are part of the BucketFeet community. No really. The BucketFeet Artist Network includes over 10,000 artists in more than 34 countries!

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.

When BucketFeet reached out, I loved what I saw and immediately placed an order. My shoe situation is set at the moment, so I had Ralph and Olive each choose a pair instead. It was fun to watch them narrow it down. : )

There are options that tie, slip-ons, mid-high sneakers, and flip flops as well. And they offer sizes for women, for men, and for kids, so you can outfit the whole family. BucketFeet is based in Chicago, but since we’re in California and it’s like 75 degrees on this fine February day, it’s no surprise both Olive and Ralph chose casual slip-ons — these shoes are like the California uniform. : )

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.Bucketfeet04

Funnily enough, they both chose shoes designed by California artists as well! Ralph chose Richer Poorer Visionary, designed by Richer Poorer’s Joe Tornatzky. Olive chose a pair of Nomad Grey 2, designed by Aaron Firestein (who happens to live nearby in Berkeley!). I really love both pairs, and I think the world map that unites the shoes Olive picked out is especially clever.

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.

BucketFeet launched a few years ago in 2011, after a chance meeting in Argentina between two strangers who were backpacking around the world. A drink, an interesting pair of hand-drawn shoes, and a conversation later, a partnership was born. I really love learning about the stories behind interesting companies. It feeds my entrepreneurial genes!

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.

Would you like to give BucketFeet a try? Well then, today’s your lucky day. The first 20 readers who use the code DESIGNMOM25 will receive 25% off their purchase. That’s quite a nice discount! If you buy a pair, I hope you’ll let me know what design you choose. I’m so curious!


By Gabrielle. Photos by Lesley Colvin.

Maureen seems like she would be a great instant friend. You know the one: she invites your kids over for a crafter-noon just when you’re on the verge of a “I can’t glue one more thing to one more thing” moment, delivers a meatloaf just because she made two, and shares all her secrets for making her life easier just in case you need one. She is someone I love sharing with you today, and you’ll soon understand why.

Oh, and her London space isn’t too shabby either! Welcome, Maureen!

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: We are a family of five, and are expecting to round our numbers out to six any day now with the arrival of another little girl. Nathan works in finance and has the most impressive design eye of any banker you’ll ever meet. I am a graphic designer and recently launched my own business.

Nathan and I met 12 years ago at my brother’s wedding. My brother was his boss and I was the younger sister, just graduated from college and in town for the wedding. I hate to sound cheesy, but we had a magical connection. We spent the whole reception dancing, and then we talked on the hotel lobby sofa until morning. Though he claims that was it for him, I felt like the world was my oyster and wanted to experience some adulthood before settling down. Four years (and quite a long story) later, we got back in touch just before he was transferred to London. I was in San Francisco, he was in Minneapolis. After spending two months on the phone every night and meeting each other in Chicago for a weekend, he asked me to move to London. And I did! My parents always said “When you know, you KNOW” and I realized – when I was finally ready – I had ALWAYS known. Four years later, and five years ago, Atticus was born.

Every photo to follow is my favorite. You’ll see.


Design Mom Gabrielle Blair Red Velvet Gucci Tuxedo

By Gabrielle. Photos by Justin Hackworth & Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit. You can see all the photos from the event on Microsoft’s One Drive.

I loved attending Alt Summit last month! There was so much good stuff going on. Some of you already know this, but for those of you who are new here, I’m one of the founders of Alt Summit and I run the conference with my sister, Sara, and a fantastic team. So of course, I attend every Alt Summit event. Sara works with sponsors, and I’m responsible for the speakers and topics at the conferences.

Some of the highlights of the event for me:

Lisa Congdon at Alt Summit

- Lisa Congdon’s Opening Keynote. Having Lisa share her inspiring story about how here career has unfolded was the perfect way to start the conference. She was completely engaging, and attendees walked away feeling like they could learn something new, no matter what age or stage they were in.

Photobooth at Alt Summit Winter 2015

- Getting to see my kids enjoying the conference. Maude and Olive flew out to Salt Lake City and met me there on Wednesday. Several of their cousins were attending and it was super fun to see these teens interacting with attendees, going to classes, and helping out as needed.

Check in Desk at Alt Summit Winter 2015

- Seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Yesterday, I went through the business cards I collected and sent a quick note to each person. I can’t wait to see what sorts of collaborations come out of this year’s conference!

Painting Tiles for a Birthing Center in Haiti, with Every Mother Counts & Wayfair, and Alt Summit Winter 2015

- Connecting with really great sponsors who were excited to work with bloggers. I loved meeting the folks at I totally took advantage of the Airbnb lounge for conversations with fellow attendees. And I had an awesome talk with Fandango in the hair and makeup lounge. Speaking of their lounge, I need to credit my hair and makeup in all of these photos to Fandango! I would meet Rubi of She Let’s Her Hair Down in their lounge at 7:00 AM each morning and she would absolutely transform me.

There were 25 excellent sponsors this year! It was super fun to see bloggers and site owners making connections, pitching ideas, and walking away from the conference with new business deals. That’s the best! And it’s one of the big reasons Alt exists.

Design Mom, Gabrielle Blair, in a red velvet Gucci tuxedo.

After the jump, I share photos of all the outfits I wore, plus more details and highlights from the conference. Be prepared, I show a lot of photos of me in the red tux. I can’t help myself. It’s such a cool suit!

Click here to see what I wore!


A Few Things

January 30, 2015

Gabrielle Blair Design Mom Diamonds

By Gabrielle

Hello, Friends. How was your week? And how are YOU? I loved being back at my desk this week, with no travel on the immediate calendar for me or Ben Blair or any of our kids. I definitely feel like I’ve been in recovery mode since Sunday — January offered up some particularly crazy weeks! I find that all I’m craving this weekend is some extra sleep and a few hours to make some headway on my inbox. Sounds glamorous, right? Hah!

How about you? Anything fun on your weekend schedule? Let me know so I can live vicariously through you!

I’ve got a decent to-do list to tackle today so that I can welcome the weekend, but before I turn my attention to tackling, there are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- #ThisGirlCan! No surprise this video has gone viral.

- An article from a writer who says she’s “sponsored” by her husband.

- Whistling at your Mom.

- A Blog About Love is posting again! I’ve missed their voices. I especially noted their posts about small breasts, the experience at Vipassana, and one key to developing compassion.

- An anti-domestic violence SuperBowl commercial. (I feel like I may have shared this before. My apologies if it’s a repeat. But then again, it bears repeating.)

- Check this out: Happy Handmade Book.

- Are you following this Humans of New York story about the school and the amazing principal?

- Chart of dresses worn by Best Actress Oscar Winners.

- Made me smile. Licia Ronzulli of European Parliament has been taking her daughter to sessions for 2 years.

- If Frodo had Google maps.

- Remind me to show this to Oscar. I am dying to get him into a dance class!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Will you be watching the SuperBowl on Sunday? (If yes, try making this dip for your snacks!) I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — The picture of me at top was snapped at Alt Summit, and I’m dying to tell you about the conference! I’ve been working on a report — and a what-I-wore post. I think I may combine the two together. Anyway, watch for the post next week, and other fun stuff too!


A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters.

By Gabrielle. Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.

Would you like to see my daughters’ bedroom? If yes, this is the post for you. I have tons of photos and lots of details to share. This room came together slowly. There was lots of sketching of floor plans, moving of walls, trying furniture in different configurations, and pondering about closet space. We eventually took it down to a 14.5′ x 22.5′ blank canvas and created from there.

But all the work and patience paid off. The room is terrific! The girls love it. It meets their needs easily and it looks fabulous as well.

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters. A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters.

As you may remember, all four of our daughters share the same room. That wasn’t the original plan when we moved in. But we hadn’t actually seen this house in person until after we’d purchased it, so we didn’t really have a true sense of the dimensions of the rooms and the best way to use the space.

I receive quite a bit of email asking me about this shared room situation, so I thought I would start this post with a few FAQs, then, you can click through if you want to see all the details and the thinking behind the design decisions. At the end of the post, I included four shots of the room taken from each corner, so that you can get a good sense of the overall space.

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters.

Why Four Kids in One Room?
While doing renovations on this space, we could see that the bedroom in question was originally two bedrooms, and we weren’t surprised at all. Without knowing the history of the house, we considered doing the same thing — splitting the bedroom into two.

Interestingly, Maude, who has the strongest feelings among our kids about room-sharing, much preferred the idea of four people in one room, instead of two people in two rooms. When I thought about it, I felt like I understood where she was coming from. When there are two of you sharing a room, and you’re irritated about something, it’s easy to direct that irritation at your roommate. And those recurring negative experiences can make for a tense relationship. But if there are four of you in the room, the irritation gets dissipated. It’s easier to see that 3 people aren’t intentionally bugging you, that you are simply bugged and it has nothing to do with the people in the room.

That’s an oversimplification, but hopefully you understand what I mean. : )

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters. Including freestanding closets.

Anyway, that’s how we ended up putting all 4 girls in one room, instead of splitting the room into two or trying some other household configuration. We also tested it out for many months before we jumped in and started renovating. By that time, it was easy to see the four-sister-in-one-room situation was working well for everybody.

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters.

But how does it work? Do the different ages make bedtime difficult?

Good question. So far, bedtime hasn’t been an issue at all. The younger two go to bed around 8:00. They go through their bedtime routines (bath, pjs, etc.), we read a book, and then they’re off to dream land. By the time the older kids come into the room the younger ones are already fast asleep.

I would say it also works for us, because we have a specific theory about kid bedrooms. We set aside bedrooms for sleeping and dressing only. We have other spaces in the house for homework and toys — even other places for reading. It’s not a strict rule — we do keep a shelf of books in the bedrooms, and the youngest ones like to have a stuffed animal or two around. But in general, our bedrooms are only used for sleeping and getting dressed/ready for the day. I realize that not every house works like this — if you have a tiny apartment, the bedroom and playroom are likely the same room!

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters. Freestanding closets create a dressing area.

Don’t kids need their own space as they get older?

Yes. I think they do. And we work hard to make sure the kids have personal time as needed. But I don’t think that means every child needs their own room. For most families in the world, the idea of each person getting their own space is simply not possible, and for big families like ours, sharing bedrooms is a no-brainer. In fact, I’ve shared a bedroom my whole life — with siblings, with college roommates, and with my husband. But I always figured out ways to get alone time when I craved it.

For our girls, since the bedrooms are generally empty of people during waking hours, if someone wants to be solo, their bedroom is usually the go-to option. But they can also use the reading loft, or one of our decks, or the family office, or even the master bedroom.

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters. Freestanding closets separate the sleeping and dressing areas.

I suppose sharing a room is not for everyone, but it’s also not out of the ordinary in any way. And I’m confident the alternative, a sprawling house with 7 or 8 bedrooms, would not be a good fit for our family at all.

So if the idea of 4 kids in a bedroom is stressing you out, just know that you don’t have to do it. Hah! Also know that it’s working for us, and that if it stops working for us, we’ll try another solution. Simple as that.

Ready for the design tour now? Keep reading!


By Gabrielle.

Do you remember Meg? How could we forget? Hers was one of my most popular, most interesting tours I’ve shared, mostly because it was this close to being the tour that never was! See, Meg and her husband Zach didn’t even want kids. And when they did add one to their mix, they did so in such a wonderfully open and honest way that their story still sits somewhere in my head, filed under A Well-Lived Life.

Well, there’s a been a change in their family, and Zelda is getting a sibling! Hooray! But there’s so much more to the story – and so much more to learn from this sweet family – and so I’ll let Meg tell it. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, and enjoy it some more.

Welcome, Meg!


Baby Cravings

January 28, 2015

Image and text by Gabrielle.

I realize the title of this post implies otherwise, but I’m not pregnant. I promise. And I have zero plans to have another baby. I really, truly feel like our little family is complete.

So what’s with all the baby cravings I’ve been having lately?

I see babies and have to stop myself from picking them up without permission. I see pregnant friends and my hand instinctively goes to my belly to acknowledge my own (non-existent) pregnancy. I find myself listening in on conversations about the latest baby gear and making mental notes for future purchases that aren’t going to happen.

All that, and yet I assure you with complete confidence that I don’t actually want to have another baby. I am 100% uninterested in being pregnant.

It occurs to me that it might be my biological clock. These baby cravings may be a simple reminder from my body: Hey. Want to have a baby? You should go for it asap. This offer won’t last forever!

And if that’s true, it has caught me off guard. I guess it never occurred to me that after six babies, my biological clock would still be nagging me. Or perhaps my assumptions are wrong, and it has nothing to do with my biology. Maybe there’s just something in the air.

Tell me, friends, has this ever happened to you? Are you done growing your family (or maybe content not growing a family at all), but still having baby pangs? If yes, does it go away at some point, or does it continue until grandkids arrive? Hah! I’d love to hear your experiences.

P.S. — Remember Baby June?


EASY Citrus Sugar Recipe. Make Lemon, Lime, or Orange sugar and add some flavor to your baked goods. Free printable!

By Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.

Hey Sugar! Here’s something to sweeten your day. As you know, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so I’m trying to share a few projects while you still have time to make use of them. : ) This one is a good one! Flavored sugar recipes are popping up everywhere and since they are so simple to make, I thought they would make sweet gifts for neighbors and friends (pun intended). Sugars infused with flavors help elevate the taste of the recipes they are added to.

EASY Citrus Sugar Recipe. Make Lemon, Lime, or Orange sugar and add some flavor to your baked goods. Free printable!

I’m not kidding about how easy these flavored sugars are to make. All it takes to make citrusy sugars is sugar and zest. Amounts can be adjusted so you can make just the right amount.

EASY Citrus Sugar Recipe. Make Lemon, Lime, or Orange sugar and add some flavor to your baked goods. Free printable!

I even made a tag (free printable!) for you to tie on so this treat is as adorable as it is easy to make.

Let’s make something sweet!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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